Case Antiques, Auctions & Appraisals in Knoxville, Tennessee will be putting up a rare find for auction: a nickel-plated Model 1902 Colt .38 pistol that once belonged to Bonnie Parker. According to Reuters, the handgun is set to go under the hammer on January 25 and is expected to draw anywhere from $125,000 to $175,000.
“I don’t know that it gets any better than this,” said Case Antiques President John Case. “I am not aware of a more documented item from that time period.”
Parker was better known as the female half of the criminal duo Bonnie and Clyde, alongside Clyde Barrow. In the early years of the 1930s, Parker, Barrow, and their accomplices committed a string of robberies and murders that would garner them press coverage and cement them among the most notorious outlaws of American history. The pair’s crime spree ended in 1934 when they were ambushed and killed by law enforcement officers in Bienville Parish, Louisiana while driving in a stolen Ford V8. When the vehicle was inspected, the officers found a number of firearms stored in the car and on the bodies of the deceased criminals, including automatic rifles, sawed-off shotguns, several handguns, and a large supply of ammunition.
However, the Colt .38 was not found by the officers or added to the growing pile of evidence that was seized from the car. Instead, the pistol was concealed in Parker’s dress and discovered by mortician Charles Bailey. According to Case Antiques, Bailey later gifted the gun to Robert Dawson Hightower, the son of a co-worker. Hightower, a decorated Naval Aviator in the Second World War and an Orthopedics professor, later passed the firearm down to his son Bob Hightower, who is the current consignor.
“I would hope someone would buy it and appreciate it for what it is,” Bob Hightower told the Herald and News.
Along with the semi-automatic pistol, the lot will include the original magazine found with the gun and the six rounds that it carried, as well as a number of photos, documents and letters of authenticity that provide the item with provenance.
Image courtesy Case Antiques